Author Archive

Zaha Kheir

Zaha Kheir is a DPhil candidate at St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford, where she researches nation-building and democracy in multi-ethnic societies, with a particular focus on Israel and Lebanon. During the academic year 2015-2016, she is affiliated with several research institutes in Israel and living in the Palestinian Territories.

As I am sitting here writing this contribution at 8:50 in the morning, I can already hear signs of the relentless fighting that has been going on for over ten days around Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem: Soldiers shooting tear gas canisters, military jets are flying over the area, ambulances rushing to the scene and hundreds of impatient drivers waiting to cross the area honking without let-up. Riots had kicked off in the area in response to the current dispute between Israeli Jews and Arabs about the administration of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Muslim religious site is administered by Jordan and Jews are allowed to visit but not to pray there. Increased Jewish visits in recent times have raised …

Israel’s international image has suffered tremendously in the past few years. Repeated wars in the Gaza Strip, the continued construction of housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s provocative rhetoric during his most recent bid to win re-election have poisoned the relationship between Israel and the international community. 2014 proved to be the year of Palestinian statehood recognition votes in Europe. Parliaments from Portugal to Ireland, all the way to the European Parliament in Brussels have considered recognition. Though cautiously worded, the motions indicate a change in the international mood surrounding the Middle East conflict. Netanyahu’s most recent declarations of support for the two-state solution reflect the deep concern that has spread in Israel regarding what is for the first time serious international pressure on the country. But does this necessarily translate into a bright future for the Peace Process? Netanyahu’s interest in a two-state as opposed to a one-state solution should not take us by surprise. The latter would mean an Arab majority in the would-be Jewish state. At this time, about six million Jews and six million Arabs inhabit the territories of Israel and the future Palestinian state. With a higher Arab fertility rate, Jews would soon be a minority in such a state. Moreover, Palestinians seek the right of return of their over five million refugees as part of the state-creating deal, and it is to be expected that the state would attract a greater number of Palestinian refugees than of Jews eligible to return to Israel. It follows that a one-state solution spells the unthinkable for Israel.